This is a question asked by many who have experienced the news of the Poster Show. This a new addition for SIGGRAPH 2004, and we can thank Ronen Barzel for taking the initiative to make this a possibility.
After SIGGRAPH 2004, the community had addressed the idea to make SIGGRAPH more accessible to beginning researchers. Traditionally, sketches and papers were available for presenters. Sketches were primarily created for the purpose of involving more beginners, but they too have evolved into something very polished. Papers are ultimately "polished" and about 1 in 5 papers are accepted, thus being very hard to get in.
Posters provide a venue for the newest developing research in computer graphics and interactive techniques. Many conferences for scientific fields have Poster Programs, but have not previously been presented at the annual SIGGRAPH conference.
Ronen Barzel explains his goal for the Poster Program as "a way for students to be involved in SIGGRAPH. It is a place for interesting ideas that are not quite polished enough for a paper." They provide a unique venue for research that is younger or smaller than appropriate for the Papers or Sketches programs. And they are aimed to be a beginner's entrance that allowed for new and innovative research and ideas.
Ronen also chose a later deadline for the poster submission. He expressed his feeling about how the March deadline is more realistic for getting "fresh" work. It creates time to research and refine their ideas with those of, say, a final project for class. He wanted to have the opportunity to include the ideas "too small for paper but interesting as a poster." And this is a realistic way to involve students in SIGGRAPH.
The Posters program provides two forms of presentation. They are displayed throughout the conference week. This allows attendees to browse and study posters at their convenience, devoting their time to those projects that interest them most. Second, we will have scheduled sessions when poster presenters will be available for informal interaction and discussion. The poster presentation is one that is beneficial for the attendees because as Ronen explains, "You see it, you like it and then can come back and talk to the artists." Because of the way the schedule is set up, attendees can come to listen to the artists discuss their works at the arranged time. When an attendee takes a seat at a paper presentaton, they literally commit at least fifteen minutes of their time.”
130 posters were submitted and 118 were accepted. The jury consisted of 17 people, and every poster was reviewed by 3 jurors depending on different areas of expertise. The main goal was to choose ideas that had not been done before. "But if it was interesting, we wanted it at SIGGRAPH."
Although Ronen is mostly responsible for the poster production, he wants to give much credit to David Laidlaw, the IEEE Visualization 2003 Posters co-chair. "[David] needled me into doing the Poster Program. He suggested that I get it going, and I asked him to be the associate chair. He had attended many conferences that had a Poster Programs, and I had never been and so he helped with his knowledge." David served as the SIGGRAPH 2004 Papers Associate chair.
Because there is now a venue for posters, there is now the opportunity for an ACM Student Research Competition. Students submitting to the SIGGRAPH 2004 Posters program can opt to have their research poster considered also by the Student Research Competition jury. If selected, students will receive some financial support for their travel to the conference and an opportunity to compete at an ACM level. Stay tuned for a live article featuring the results of the competition.